empire grade

School starting soon, i love you its gonna be okay

School starts soon and i just want to tell you that its okay to cry, its okay if u get a bad grade, its okay if you dont want to be in class, its okay if you dont feel like doing the homework, its okay if you dont have enough energy to study for a test. its okay. what matters most is your mental health. but you should atleast try. never give up because we have the power to make our own future for ourselves and no matter what people say - you are smart, you are pretty, you are funny, you are intelligent, you are amazing, you have an awesome sense of style, your smile is gorgeous, your laugh is adorable and you are strong. If anyone else tells you differently then just think of that in the future you’ll be their boss swimming in a pile of money, success, youre shit will be together due to the empire you yourself built with your own tears and hardwork. I love you. You have the potential do be and do anything. I believe in you. its all going to work out. its all going to be okay.


Anyone want to take a guess at how many times I attempted this before I was pleased with it? Not that the recipe is hard or anything, it’s just that I’m slow to comprehend and a few tweaks needed to be undergone here and there before it possibly made weeknight dinner rotation.Aside from the umeboshi plums, it certainly was likely, however, the time required to dice onions was a massive detractor. But besides that, with very few ingredients and mostly of staples? It’s a winner. Oh and it’s delicious of course. And I love the concept of a donburi, that the entire meal lies in the bowels of a single bowl.Fish, meat, vegetables simmered together and then served with the unifying blanket; rice.. exactly why I intend to make every donburi that made a 3 second cameo! A little bit of history as explained in the manga/anime, The Chaliapin Steak is Japan’s original concoction made in 1939 for the Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin when he visited Japan. At the time he was afflicted with toothaches and requested a tender steak, and thus, the Chaliapin Steak was born! Onions are a good match with steak in order to tenderise it thus disregardng the need to, oh, own the butchering empire for A5 grade meat. So basically, bless this anime for not being elitest and providing recipes that can be accomplished from the aisles of a spermarket. 

Yukihira Style Chaliapin (Shalyapin) Steak Don

Steak (sirloin), 2 onions, 4 tblsp red wine, 1 tblsp soy sauce, 2 tblsp butter, bowl of rice, umeboshi plums, potato starch dissolved in water, spring onion

Dice the onions finely. Beat steak with a meat tenderiser (or in my case, the end of a rolling pin). Score the meat. 

Cover meat with diced onions, leave for 30 minutes.

Remove the pit from the umeboshi.

Mash into a paste. As it’s very soft, this can be accomplished with even a spoon. To me it was a bit of an acquired taste, interesting and most certainly adds to the flavour and another dimension of the dish.

Mix into rice. Set aside

Remove onions and season.

Melt 1 tblsp of butter into a frying pan and cook the meat depending on thickness, remove.

Deglaze pan with red wine. Add soy sauce to the rim and let burn slightly before mixing together with potato starch until thickened. Remove.

Add remaining butter and caramelise onions.


Add sauce

Layer with onions and sprinkle with chopped green onions.

Sneakily cut off a bit of steak for better presentation and drizzle with more sauce if desired. Enjoy!



I am rolling down a fast, long stretch of wooded downhill on Smith Grade. Flying. Air, chilled by the shade and eager to flash by my ears, whistles through spokes and dries a salty sweat crust on my face.

Empire Grade put that crust there, with its long slog of sun-baked grade and its home-court advantage. The ‘not-knowing-what-to-expect’ rube-ness of the first-time rider who was testing her legs on an unexplored road. A rider who did not know how far the climb stretched on for, and whose only option was to keep her head down and focused, just kept slogging. Just kept slogging.

Ice Cream Grade had been the relief. The turn. With its instant cool and comforting redwoods. Quiet and fun. And now, Smith Grade continued the downhill trend, with a freewheeling momentum run that would eventually re-connect to Empire Grade. A loop-de-loop.

I smile. Once I get to that, I’ll be on a downhill that will effortlessly—for the most part—take me all the way to Santa Cruz.

But for now, Smith is rolling, fast and furious. There is no traffic sound. Just the woodsy orchestra of snapping twigs, unidentified creatures in the undergrowth, bird sounds and the whir of thin rubber on asphalt. My hub clicks away, loudly and with glee.

I am going fast. It feels steep. I smile.

“Man,” I think. “It must really suck doing this in the other direction. ”

Gently squeezing brake levers, I take an unfamiliar corner on this acne-faced road. Bumps and shimmers. On and on and down and down and now there’s the trickle of water and the sound of a car crawling up.

We bottom out, my bike and I, and I climb a little rise that stretches up slow and easy. To my right, I see the tops of giant trees as I look out across a view that I should probably stop to photograph, since it gives contexts to climb. But I’m feeling selfish. I want to keep this for myself. In my head. This time, that image is mine.

Round a curve and a slight downhill and it hits me again. How much it must suck to do Smith Grade from the Empire Grade end. Horrible. What a grind.

Some farms wave from in amongst the trees and it opens up a bit. I roll down again, then up and into thicker trees again. A foam mattress by the side of the road. A couch, with a pattern straight out of the 70s sits perched off the dirt shoulder and half stuck in a tree fork. Coach surfing in the forest?

I’m definitely climbing now, and it’s reminding my quads about Empire Grade earlier. Of how I’d kept on churning. I’d passed a guy wearing Vans on a flat-pedaled single speed and wondered how he kept his mojo going on that climb. Thought about saying, “This is hard enough with gears” as I passed, but kept that to myself. Remembered what it’s like when someone says something dumb like that and you’re just in your own little cave of hurt and that hot rush of a thought that makes you want to punch that person right in their comment-giving face. So, I’d passed him without saying a word.

Stay in your own pain cave. Focus on yourself. Just breathe and keep going.

But I’m not really in a pain cave now. I’m just climbing my way up to the Empire Grade intersection and I feel vaguely strange. Not in a bad way. Dissatisfied? Is that it?

I am actually in my granny gear, so I guess I am working reasonably hard now. This is not so easy. Not so easy. Getting close to the end of Smith though, so downhill coming up. So, there’s that.

Flash thought: It must really suck doing this the other way, with that climb at the end. That climb that was such a great downhill run. That must really be horrible to climb.

And now I’m grinding up a long stretch. There’s a pre-sign, sign indicating a STOP sign ahead. The Empire approacheth.

It must really be a torturous thing, doing Smith Grade in the other direction. I puff and squint and think about how hungry I am, and the trail mix bar in my pocket. I think about how warm it is and how happy I am to have put sunscreen on.

Smith Grade in the other direction: that must blow chunks of hate vomit out of the exhaust pipe of the ‘this was a dumb idea’ wagon.

Here comes the Empire Grade turn off. Here it comes.

I do the only logical thing a person can do when they approach the end of a climb and just need to turn right to find some lovely down hill that leads straight to Santa Cruz. I do the only sane thing. The only honorable and true thing.

I turn around. I do Smith Grade in the other direction.

Suffering is a dish best served.

Take it. Don’t forget to say thank you.